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Phoenix Digital Divide Solution, 'PHX DECC' Connects 250K Familieshttps://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/ced/2037Community and Economic Development8/25/2021 7:00:00 AMhttps://www.phoenix.gov/newssite/Lists/NewsArticle/Attachments/2037/NEWSROOM_CED_08001.jpgPhoenix Digital Divide Solution, 'PHX DECC' Connects 250K Families<div class="ExternalClass5C96200D317D459EBDE09E25BB885261"><html> <p>Deployed as a digital divide solution, the Phoenix Digital Education Connection Canopy is a replicable network connecting students to schoolwork and virtual classrooms in Phoenix, Arizona.<br></p><p style="text-align:center;"><em>By Eric Jay Toll for PHX Newsroom</em><br></p> <p>“It’s the silver lining from the pandemic cloud,” said Laura Pastor, Phoenix city councilwoman, whose district includes many of the city’s digitally underserved neighborhoods. “Children will no longer need to sit in library parking lots or coffee shops to access high-speed broadband to do their homework.”</p> <p>The COVID-19 health emergency closed schools, libraries and community centers, sending students to learn from home. Realizing that more than 250,000 families did not have access or adequate internet speeds to go to school or complete assignments, city and education officials clamored for a digital divide solution.</p> <p>“Overcoming challenges is in Phoenix’s DNA,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “This is a great example of how, by looking at things differently, we can produce innovative solutions that highlight Phoenix as a top-tier city. PHX DECC is a cost-effective, collaborative, digital divide solution we’re proud to champion.”</p> <p>In a nearly 18-month effort, the concept, the testing and the reality came together with a scalable digital divide solution connecting students to virtual classrooms, conferences, homework assignments and curated school resources.</p> <p>It all started at Phoenix College with just four words</p> <p>Pastor had a lead role in bringing together the consortium to engineer and deploy the PHX DECC. In her unique position as a city councilwoman in America’s fifth-largest city and employed full-time as the community liaison for Phoenix Community College, Pastor is also an elected member of the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board. She leveraged her connections pushing forward a digital divide solution.</p> <p>“Paul Ross and I were called into (then Phoenix College President Larry Johnson Jr.’s) office. He gave us a simple charge,” she said. “He said, ‘Solve the digital divide.’”</p> <p>Ross, Phoenix College Associate Vice President and CIO, came up with the idea of using existing technology and applications to create a digital canopy over a school district connecting students to virtual classrooms, homework assignments and schools’ digital resources over an accessible, no-cost, wireless high-speed intranet.</p> <p>“I first had the idea in 2016 in Ohio, again in 2017 in Washington, and I couldn’t get any traction on the idea of solving the digital divide with existing technology,” said Ross. “With the coming of the pandemic, this was no longer just something occurring in pockets; the ability to connect was affecting everyone, everywhere.”</p> <p>Able to tap into the cross-agency resources, Pastor built the collaboration.</p> <p>“I didn’t know how to solve the digital divide,” she said. “But I knew where to find those who would. I knew the city would have money from the CARES Act, as with the school districts in the college. If everybody contributed, we would have the know-how, the commitment and the money to make it happen.”</p> <p>Once the challenge of ensuring access to classrooms and education resources was on the table, the walls between the city, education, business and the telecommunications industry disappeared.</p> <p>“It is in the best interest of the city to make this a sustainable city at the end of the day, so you want to make sure that you have a level playing field for all of your families,” said Christine Mackay, director, Phoenix Community and Economic Development. “That means they all have access to a quality education so that they can find good jobs. That’s really what you want for all of your citizens.”</p> <p>She said that the telecommunications industry and business community were committed to a long-term solution for all our student’s educational opportunities. </p> <p>An investment in the workforce of the future</p> <p>As America’s fastest-growing large city, Phoenix is a magnet for growing companies and a steadily increasing demand for workers.</p> <p>“From an economic development standpoint, we couldn’t take a chance that we would have any gaps in our future workforce,” said Mackay. “We’ve really worked diligently across all sectors to create a place that makes Phoenix Arizona a great destination for high-wage technology-related businesses that we hadn’t seen before. They are really attracted to the workforce that we have.”</p> <p>The key is off-the-shelf technology</p> <p>No special consultants, no proprietary hardware; the charge was to make the solution fit maintenance and upkeep within existing school district budgets.</p> <p>Ross said the key to making it happen was thorough research. And he invested hundreds of hours reading specification sheets and testing off-the-shelf equipment. He had the makings for PHX DECC: free broadband connecting students to schools in a scalable concept and economically efficient solution. </p> <p>On paper, Ross and Pastor were holding a recipe for a solution to the digital divide.</p> <p>Finding a long-term solution</p> <p>“We have significant information about our students,” said Dr. Chad Gestson, superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District. “We have a staggering number who live with food insecurity. (So we know) the students who live without access to resources, and they certainly live without access to technology.”</p> <p>Gestson said the priority was getting high-speed school access to families with a permanent solution.</p> <p>“Through the willing businesses, students could access WiFi in coffee shops; they could log on to the Internet near libraries and some public buildings,” said Gestson. “These are short-term solutions.”</p> <p>The pandemic showed that even the short-term solutions had significant problems.</p> <p>“When the pandemic hit, all students were sent home, and so were their parents,” said Ross. “This meant that the household internet connection was being used by parents for work and multiple students for school. There wasn’t the capacity for everyone at the same time. Plus, businesses that normally provided WiFi for students were also closed, and many turned off their wireless networks.”</p> <p>Pastor noted that the problem existed in her own home, where she juggled the role of parent, employee, board member and council member. </p> <p>“We had internet connection issues with all the video conferences and virtual classes,” she said.”</p> <p>For thousands of families, trying to go to school from home was impossible. They didn’t have food on the table, let alone a high-speed internet connection. Sitting in a parking lot at closed libraries and recreation centers helped, but it was not a solution for doing homework.</p> <p>It wasn’t just pockets here and there</p> <p>Ross observed that the pandemic highlighted digital divide problems that weren’t just scattered pockets in rural America. </p> <p>“Almost everyone with a student at home was impacted in some way by demands for bandwidth,” he said. “That was when we decided it was time to take the theory and test it in practice.”</p> <p>Phoenix wasn’t the only municipality facing the challenge. Other cities and organizations have attempted solutions. Reports say that costs skyrocketed, and the numbers served were limited. The answer coming from Phoenix College would serve 250,000 families for far less than other systems. Using off-the-shelf equipment, school districts could take on the system maintenance within their budgets. </p> <p>Micro concept tested with college students</p> <p>With seed money from the city of Phoenix, Ross put a test installation into play at Phoenix College. Students at the campus participated in the test, taking courses, doing schoolwork and tapping into resources. The microconcept was a resounding success.</p> <p>In summer 2020, the phase I deployment started. </p> <p>“We needed to blanket the school districts. I can tell you more about every pole under the (PHX DECC) canopy than anyone,” said Ross. “I walked neighborhoods; I talked to people; I checked out all the locations. I knew this would work.”</p> <p>The goal was to be ready for the start of the 2021-22 school year. The program goes live on September 1 in three school districts: Phoenix Union High School District and Alhambra and Cartwright elementary school districts.</p> <p>A public effort supported by business and the private telecom industry</p> <p>The WiFi canopy for the schools required security, high-speed broadband capacity, and individual districts’ ability to manage cost and maintenance within existing technology capabilities. PHX DECC delivers all three solutions. It required financial backing to make it possible, that’s where Phoenix played a major role.</p> <p>“ARPA and the CARES Act provide necessary federal funding to invest in a res​​ilient, strong future that will last for generations,” said Gallego. “Investing those monies into PHX DECC will create a more connected community and deliver the critical results our city needs.”<br></p> <p>The canopy connects students and parents to virtual classrooms and conferences, homework assignments, and school-curated resources. It does not provide unfettered access to the Internet.</p> <p>Telecommunication companies generally oppose cities and educational institutions offering broadband services. With PHX DECC, the Southwest Telecommunications Association is supporting the effort.</p> <p>“The cable communications industry supports this effort. We don’t want to see government entities competing with private businesses; this system does not compete,” said Susan Bitter Smith, Executive Director of the Southwest Cable Communications Association. “The Association understood the communities’ needs and the (PHX DECC)’s unique connection of student to classroom is giving underserved communities the help they need.”</p> <p>Affordable, attainable, scalable PHX DECC</p> <p>“We wanted something that any educational organization could use,” Ross said. </p> <p>Instead of issuing a blank check, the collaborative effort kept in focus the cost of maintaining the PHX DECC system.</p> <p>“We didn’t want districts to have to hire outside vendors with specialist costs to maintain the system,” said Pastor. “We wanted the districts to be able to integrate the maintenance into existing budgets and capabilities. We succeeded.”</p> <p>That controlled cost and using existing equipment make the system scalable and transferable to school districts anywhere. Ross is genuinely excited about what this means up and down the education ladder.</p> <p>“We are creating a program here at Phoenix College that trains our technology students,” he said.  They learn how to install, maintain and operate (PHX DECC), which can help them find jobs with schools locally or anywhere this system will be installed.”</p> <p>Those involved in the entire process say they almost get goosebumps thinking about how PHX DECC is a life-changing technology for families. </p> <p>“Our entire community is very excited that we’ve become involved in this intergovernmental effort to solve the digital divide,” said Gestson. “Once we roll out this network, our staff and faculty will truly be able to keep students engaged on nights and weekends. For our students, they are very excited.”</p> <p>Gestson said, “In this highly technological world, tech access should not be a privilege; it should be a right.”</p> <p>PHX DECC Phase I goes live on September 1.​<br></p> </html></div>https://www.phoenix.gov/econdevNewscedGraphic: Image of Phoenix at night with a wifi canopyCED#PHXDECC #GreaterPHXtogether #digitaldivide City of Phoenix Phoenix College PHX Union phoenix community and economic development, alhambra elementary school district, cartwright elementary school district, southwest cable communications association Eric Jay Toll602-617-3797eric.toll@phoenix.govhttps://www.phoenix.gov/newssite/Lists/MediaContact/Attachments/52/Eric_Toll.jpgPHXEconDev

 

 

United Foods International (USA), Inc. to Expand Global Footprint with a New State-of-the-Art Facility in Phoenix https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/ced/3143Community and Economic Development6/24/2024 6:00:00 PMhttps://www.phoenix.gov/newssite/Lists/NewsArticle/Attachments/3143/Newsroom_CED_037.jpgUnited Foods International (USA), Inc. to Expand Global Footprint with a New State-of-the-Art Facility in Phoenix <div class="ExternalClass92C9B534349F4ADF92E770117EA20D99"><html> <p> United Foods International (USA), Inc. is excited to announce a cutting-edge production facility within the Envision Dobbins 202 West Industrial Park in Phoenix. This facility will allow UFI to double its liquid production in the state and expand its capabilities to meet growing demands. When the facility is fully operational, UFI plans to hire upwards of 100 employees.<br></p> <p> "Great things are happening in our City, and we are excited to have United Foods International (UFI), Inc. choose Phoenix as the location of their new production facility," said Mayor Kate Gallego. "Their investment boosts economic opportunities for our local economy and contributes to our City's thriving food industry."<br></p> <p> "We are thrilled to bring our unique and authentic food products to the vibrant city of Phoenix," said Take Shimura, President and COO of United Foods International. "Beyond the mainstream flavors, our goal is to provide consumers with a taste of Japanese and Asian cultures through our diverse range of offerings, while also supporting the local economy by creating jobs and partnerships with local suppliers."<br></p> <p> According to Phoenix Community and Economic Development Director, Chris Mackay, "This new facility is a testament to Phoenix's strong business climate and skilled workforce. We are proud that UFI has chosen our city as its hub for expanding its operations.” </p> <p> The 126,000-square-foot facility will house advanced spray dryers and initially process over 2.5 million gallons of liquid into powders annually. With future plans for additional drying chamber installations, the facility's capabilities are set to double to 5.0 million gallons. Leveraging a unique liquid-to-powder atomization process and a team of industry experts, the new facility is poised to cater to clients seeking custom powder solutions as part of their food ingredients. <br></p> <p> “UFI’s new facility underscores Phoenix’s position as a market of choice for both food- and manufacturing-related users,” said JLL Senior Managing Director Riley Gilbert, who represented UFI in the site selection and lease negotiations for its new Valley location. “They will also be an exciting addition to the Loop 202 – South Mountain Freeway corridor which, thanks to astute planning by the City of Phoenix, has become a major new hub for respected manufacturing entities like UFI.”<br></p> <p> This new production facility will be the second for UFI in Phoenix. It’s first Phoenix facility began operation in 2021 and is growing exponentially, creating the need for UFI to significantly increase its liquid processing capabilities. The new UFI facility increases the company’s local footprint to 236,000 square feet and will allow UFI to double its liquid production in Phoenix to 8.0 milion gallons annually. <br></p> <p> Construction on the new facility is underway, and operations are expected to begin in the summer of 2025.To showcase their new facility and meet with prospective clients, United Foods International (USA), Inc. will be attending the IFT First Expo. <br></p> <p> United Foods International (USA), Inc. Established in the US in 1988, UFI currently has contract manufacturing facilities in Hayward, CA, Belcamp, MD, and Phoenix, AZ. Their private label products include sauces, dressings, condiments, and dry blends such as batter mixes and seasonings, catering to a wide range of industries including restaurants and retail outlets. <br></p> <p> For more information about United Foods International (USA), Inc., please visit ufiusa.com. <br></p> <p> <strong>M​edia Contact:</strong> </p> <p> Athena Sanchez <br><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">C</span><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">o</span><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">mmunications Manager <br></span><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">Cit</span><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">y of Phoenix<br></span><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">602-621-0507<br></span><span style="background-color:window;color:windowtext;font-size:10pt;">Athena.sanchez@phoenix.gov </span></p> </html></div>https://www.phoenix.gov/econdevNews
Phoenix Mobile Career Unit Hosts Successful Event at UMOM, Connecting Job Seekers with Employershttps://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/ced/3142Community and Economic Development6/22/2024 4:00:00 PMhttps://www.phoenix.gov/newssite/Lists/NewsArticle/Attachments/3142/Newsroom_CED_036.jpgPhoenix Mobile Career Unit Hosts Successful Event at UMOM, Connecting Job Seekers with Employers<div class="ExternalClassEEA044ADB4E24E8A86BAD3475D99302C"><html> <p>The City of Phoenix Mobile Career Unit (MCU), recently hosted a successful event at UMOM, drawing over 150 job seekers and resulting in 65 on-the-spot job offers. Held on Wednesday, June 12, the MCU event saw a high turnout as community members explored job opportunities and connected with employers.  </p> <p>The event featured top employers such as Chipotle, Starbucks, Food City, and Bashas, actively seeking to fill vacant positions within their companies. Attendees had the chance to network and apply for various job openings in the food industry.</p> <p>Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego also expressed her excitement about the turnout and its positive impact on the local community. "I am thrilled to see so many job seekers taking advantage of this opportunity to connect with potential employers. This event is a great example of how our city is working on many fronts to support upward economic mobility and connect residents with meaningful employment opportunities," said Mayor Gallego. </p> <p>At the start of the Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department's Business and Workforce Division's program, the goal was to achieve 208 job offers by June 2025. As of Wednesday, the team has surpassed the program goal with 211 job offers, with another year remaining to serve the community.</p> <p>The MCU, a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge, is a part of the City of Phoenix's workforce development efforts to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers. The unit travels around the city, bringing job opportunities directly to communities that may face barriers to accessing employment resources.</p> <p>"We are dedicated to helping individuals find meaningful employment and supporting our local businesses by connecting them with qualified candidates," said LaSetta Hogans, Deputy Director of the Business and Workforce Development Division for the City of Phoenix. "This event was a great success, and we look forward to hosting more events like this in the future." </p> <p>The City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department encourages employers with workforce needs and individuals seeking employment or career advancement to take advantage of their services and attend upcoming events. For more information on upcoming events and resources available, please visit phoenix.gov/mayor/mcu.​<br><br></p> <p> <strong>Media Contact:</strong> <br>Athena Sanchez <br>City of Phoenix <br>Community and Economic Development <br>Call/text: 602-621-0507<br>Email: <a href="mailto:athena.sanchez@phoenix.gov" target="_blank">athena.sanchez@phoenix.gov</a><br></p> </html></div>https://www.phoenix.gov/econdevNews
Phoenix Parks Partners with IMPACT Melanoma to Bring Awareness to Skin Cancerhttps://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/parks-and-recreation/3141Parks and Recreation6/21/2024 6:00:00 PMhttps://www.phoenix.gov/newssite/Lists/NewsArticle/Attachments/3141/El-Oso-Sunscreen-Dispenser.jpgPhoenix Parks Partners with IMPACT Melanoma to Bring Awareness to Skin Cancer<div class="ExternalClass308CA226358745318F801EEEA515EEE4"><html> <p>​The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is proud to announce a partnership with IMPACT Melanoma, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing skin cancer. This collaboration aims to enhance sun safety practices at various splash pad locations across the City by providing free sunscreen to park visitors.<br></p> <p>The decision to initiate this partnership comes as a response to the pressing need for increased awareness and prevention of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, which poses a significant health risk in Arizona's sunny climate. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 100,640 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2024 alone.</p> <p>"Our desert environment exposes us to intense UV radiation, making sun protection a critical aspect of public health," said Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department Cynthia Aguilar. "By joining forces with IMPACT Melanoma, we are taking proactive steps to ensure the well-being of our community members and promote sun-safe behaviors."</p> <p>“IMPACT Melanoma is thrilled to partner with Phoenix Parks and Recreation to share melanoma prevention education and provide free sunscreen at neighborhood splash pads," said IMPACT Melanoma Executive Director Deb Girard.</p> <p>Under this partnership, IMPACT Melanoma will supply six portable sunscreen dispensers to be strategically placed at select splash pad locations throughout the City. These dispensers will be regularly maintained and refilled with sunscreen throughout the 2024 splash pad season, which runs from May 25 to October 1.</p> <p>The six splash pad sites participating in this initiative include:</p> <ul> <li>Altadena Park - 3711 E. Altadena Ave.</li> <li>Margaret T. Hance Park – 67 W. Culver St.</li> <li>El Oso Park - 3451 N. 75th Ave.</li> <li>Mariposa Park - 3150 W. Morten Ave.</li> <li>Nuestro Park - 1433 S. 9th St.</li> <li>Trailside Point Park - 7215 W. Vineyard Rd.</li> </ul> <p>The partnership agreement was unanimously approved by the Parks and Recreation Board, reflecting the collective dedication to safeguarding public health and promoting sun safety practices. As summer approaches, this collaborative effort stands as a testament to the City's commitment to the well-being of its residents.​<br></p> </html></div>https://www.phoenix.gov/parksNews

 

 

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